The Importance of Community

July 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Writing is one of those endeavours that has oddly conflicting requirements. You need to be a reasonably solitary type or it will be difficult to spend hours poring over paper or computer screen, typically in isolation – in mind, anyway, if not in body. And it’s not just the writing that keeps you somewhat segregated from others. Research, editing, preparing submissions and prepping promotional materials are often things we do all alone. If you have a burning need to socialize regularly, it may not be the thing for you.

On the other hand, unless you are the type who can do “everything” without any input or feedback required from anyone else, you also have to seek out a community to support you in your efforts. Not such an easy thing to do for an introvert. Social networking has made this easier, with face-to-face meetings often not required, and providing a global means of assembling your community.

I’m very fortunate to have a great community where I work as an accountant. We work cooperatively, supporting one another’s efforts. We look out for one another when things aren’t going our way, in and outside the office. This allows us to keep our morale up and remain productive even in the face of some pretty serious obstacles. It’s rare to find a workplace with that kind of environment, where you are more than just someone to crunch numbers, meet deadlines and amass data, and are valued for your strengths beyond the basic requirements of the job.

A good writing community works the same way. For one, it helps to surround yourself with people who are receptive and encouraging. It can really help you open up and move beyond the solitary writer lifestyle. Secondly, sharing is extremely important. You have to look for like-minded individuals who are willing to allow for compromises if you encounter differences of opinion, but at the same time, having cohorts whose skills and talents complement your own is essential, so some diversity is important. This also means you have to be willing to give as well as receive; in a community, it is never all about you. Lastly, flexibility is a must. You have to be willing to take reasonable risks and try new things, with the understanding that some of them will fail. This requires a certain amount of trust and allowing yourself to be vulnerable – another thing introverts are often unwilling to do.

I’ve ventured into several writing communities, from Facebook writer groups, to working with certain publishers and the writers they’ve published, cover artists, editors, etc., to writer collectives outside of the social networking platforms, like The Guild of Dreams. Some have been delightfully successful, some abysmal failures, some were good at first but gradually changed to something that didn’t work for me and some I’m still testing, but the point is, I’ve gained useful experience from all of them, even the less successful ones, and grown in some way. There were definite benefits involved.

So remember, don’t let introversion get in the way when you are provided an opportunity to join a writer community. At least take the time to see what it may have to offer, what you could contribute and if you would find a good fit with the others involved. You may make some lifelong friends and find solutions to some of your most frustrating problems.


1 Comment

  1. cherylmoore said,

    This is very true!

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